Biography:

Born on April 6th, 1971 in Framingham, Massachusetts, the pride of Framingham has had a rocky time in getting to the Major League Boston Red Sox. Lou Merloni grew up playing basketball, golf and, of course, baseball in high school. He was drafted in 1993, along with fellow Red Sock Trot Nixon. Lou started out in A league Fort Myers. Here he batted .357 in 14 at bats and was promoted to Fort Lauderdale, where he finished the year with a .244 average. In 1994 Merloni was moved to Sarasota, where he played alongside Nomah and the two became good friends. Merloni hit .286 in 419 at bats that year. By the end of the 1996 season, Lou was playing for the Paw Sox, one step away from the big times. However, Merloni found himself playing for AA Trenton for the start of the 97 season. After hitting .310 in 255 at bats he was called up to Pawtucket again. Lou started off him 98 season on fire, hitting a whopping .386 in 88 at bats. He was called up to the Bosox to play as a utility infielder. Lou Merloni made his major league debut on May 10, 1998 a day after he was called up to the majors.

Lou made a good impression to the Fenway Faithful by hitting a 3-run homer after getting a full count in his first at bat as a Boston Red Sock. However, while the Red Sox were poised to enter the post-season that year, Merloni was not, as he was injured. On June 29, 1998 it was discovered he had patella tendonitis in this left knee and was not able to return until September 12, 1998. Lou started as a major leaguer in the 1999 season, but it wouldn't last long. After hitting .254, Lou was sent down to Pawtucket again, only to be called up later in the season to cover for Nomar when he recieved a wrist injury that had him out for three games. This was Merloni's first play-off experience, but he was about to go into even more uncharted territory.

On November 22, 1999 the Yokohama Bay Stars purchased Lou's contract, and off to Japan he went. Being an American, everyone expected Merloni to do well, as others have before him. However Lou ended up hitting a measly .213 in 42 games. The higher-ups were dissappointed, and benched Lou indefinitely. After weeks of playing left bench, Merloni talked to the front office and managed to get himself released. He came back to all to familiar territory, Pawtucket.

During this time the Red Sox needed a new infielder. John Valentin was struck with a season ending injury in May, and the Bosox couldn't find anyone to fill the void. Dan Duquette made at least one good decision by bringing up the red hot Lou Merloni, who was hitting a whopping .410 for the AAA team. Lou finished the season at 3rd base, hitting .320 in 128 at bats. In 2001 Lou found himself starting off the season at his second home, Pawtucket. Lou would be called up in early April due to an injury to infielder Chris Stynes. Lou would find himself heading up and down to Pawtucket several times that year, causing the Boston sports pundits to coin the phrase "The Merloni Shuttle" for anyone dropping down to or coming up from Pawtucket. Lou ended the season in the majors. So far in the 2002 season Merloni has seen more palying time, already playing in 47 games and has been switching 2nd base duties with Bry Nelson and Rey Sanchez.

Merloni managed to get in a little verbal conflit with movie star Ben Affleck. During a game on May 27, 2002 where the Red Sox were playing the Toronto Blue Jays at the Skydome, Affleck was invited to announce a few innnings along side Sean McDonough and the amazing Jerry Remy, and to promote his latest movie. Affleck mocked Merloni's batting average, and said that Lou was bad for team chemistry! For five innnings Ben played sportscaster (also making jabs at Trot Nixon). After a game where Lou hit poorly a few days later he said that he "Pearl Harbored" in reference to the poor sales of the recent Affleck flick.

Statistics:

Number: 26
Position: 2nd Base/Utility Infielder
Height: 5-10
Weight: 201
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Season  Team   G   AB  R   H  2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB  SO  SB  CS  AVG  OBP  SLG  OPS
1998   Boston 39   96 10  27   6   0   1   15   7  20   1   0 .281 .343 .375  .718
1999   Boston 43  126 18  32   7   0   1   13   8  16   0   0 .254 .307 .333  .640
2000   Boston 40  128 10  41  11   2   0   18   4  22   1   0 .320 .341 .438  .779
2001   Boston 52  146 21  39  10   0   3   13   6  31   2   1 .267 .306 .397  .703

sources:
http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/players/profile?statsId=5997
"An Interview with Lou", Jennifer Sterling. The Holbrook Bulldog, May 1999
http://www.loubird.homestead.com/scroll.html
http://www2.bostonherald.com/sport/red_sox/lou05292002.htm
http://greenmonsterfreak.tripod.com/lou/

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